Anthony Spina, the pizza maker from New Jersey who moved to Atlanta and opened O4W Pizza in early 2015, created an unlikely sensation with his Grandma Pie.
The 16-inch square crust, sauce and cheese creation was celebrated as a study in minimalist perfection, and drew crowds to his O4W stall at Irwin Street Market in Old Fourth Ward.
But in June, Spina suddenly closed that location. And in July, he opened a long-planned new incarnation of O4W Pizza as a full service restaurant in the former Steverino’s space on Main Street in Duluth.
Fans will be happy to know that in addition to the original Grandma Pie, there are two more versions — Spicy Italian with meatballs and pepperoni, and Veggie Square with sauteed spinach, mushroom, onion and roasted pepper.
Also new on the menu, are Sicilian-style pizza and more takes on Spina’s classic Jersey round pies. And believe it or not, he installed a wood-fired oven and will soon be making Americanized Neapolitan-style pizzas and calzones.
On a recent Saturday evening, Spina was at O4W Pizza, where the dining room was packed, and he and his wife, Doris, were popping in and out of the kitchen, expediting orders.
“It’s funny being here,” Spina said. “Up until earlier this year, Buford Highway Farmers Market was about far as I ever got outside the city. But I looked everywhere for a larger location. And I always wanted to have my own place, again, like I had in Jersey.”
As far as the expanded menu, Spina said it’s mostly riffs on things he was already making in one form or another.
“My whole thing is just keeping it simple,” he said. “I make a lot of different things with the same ingredients. We’ve always made our own dough, bread, marinara, fresh mozzarella, meatballs, Berkshire pork sausage. So all those things go into our pizza and sandwiches.”
House-made cavatelli, which is the only pasta dish on the menu, is something Spina is particularly proud of. And it plays into his nostalgic cooking style.
“There was a reason I chose cavatelli,” Spina said. “A lot of people probably don’t know what they are. But for the people who do, it’s something that attracts them to the restaurant. It’s a real back home comfort food.
“As a kid, growing up, I can probably count on one hand the times we didn’t have cavatelli with Sunday dinner. But we usually run out of them here. I make them fresh every day with ricotta cheese. I get calls from people all the time asking if we have them.”
But pizza remains the mainstay of O4W offerings. And Spina has been enjoying trying out a variety of styles.
“When I came down here, the Grandma Pie was never meant to be what it turned out to be,” Spina said. “That was a specialty pizza I had in my restaurant in Jersey. But it just blew up here. And I realized as I was working with it that it was good opportunity to try out other different types of pizzas.
“That’s really what I’m working on now with things like the Brooklyn Sicilian, which is a play on the very popular Spumoni Gardens pizza. And the Franky Pep, which is a Connecticut style, like Frank Pepe, that’s a little thinner and crispier than our Jersey style. We’ll be doing the clam pie that they do, too. And we may even try doing some Detroit-style pizza.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.